causes of loss of soil nutrients

loss of soil nutrients, causes of loss of soil nutrients.

WAYS IN WHICH SOIL NUTRIENTS CAN BE LOST 1) Crop Removal. loss of soil nutrients occurs when the quantities of nutrients supplied by the soil to planted crops

are below the quantities of nutrients required by the plant to grow adequately is the result of loss of soil nutrients

loss of soil nutrients

In this situation, the nutrient requirements of the crop are met from soil reserves until these reserves cannot meet crop demands. This results in a reduction of plant growth and yield which is a direct result of the loss of soil nutrients


i. Nutrients are removed from the soil by crops for growth, development and production.
ii. When the crops are harvested, the nutrients contained in the plants are never returned to the soil=== loss of soil nutrients
iii. The rapid removal of nutrients from the soil by continuous croppingg completely deprives the soil of such nutrients.

how erosion affects soil nutrients

Erosion can have a significant impact on soil nutrients. When soil erosion occurs, the top layer of soil, which is often the richest in organic matter and nutrients, is lost or displaced. This can lead to a decrease in soil fertility and nutrient availability, affecting plant growth and agricultural productivity. Here are some specific ways in which erosion affects soil nutrients:

Loss of topsoil: The topsoil is usually the most fertile layer of soil, containing a high concentration of organic matter, minerals, and nutrients.

Erosion removes this top layer, resulting in the loss of valuable nutrients. As a result, the remaining soil may become less fertile and nutrient-poor.

Nutrient imbalance: Erosion can lead to the loss of specific nutrients, causing imbalances in the soil. Different nutrients have varying degrees of mobility.

For example, nitrogen, potassium, and sulfur are more soluble and can be easily washed away during erosion, while some other nutrients like phosphorus may bind tightly to soil particles and be more resistant to erosion. Such imbalances can affect plant growth and crop production.

Soil organic matter depletion: Erosion often removes organic matter-rich topsoil, which is a vital source of nutrients.

Organic matter contributes to the overall fertility of the soil by releasing nutrients gradually as it decomposes. When eroded, the loss of organic matter reduces nutrient cycling and decreases the soil\’s ability to retain water and nutrients.

(2) Erosion
(i) Heavy rainfall causes the washing or carrying away of topsoil which is rich in plant nutrients.
Topsoil can also be blown away by winds, resulting in a nutrient reduction in the soil.

(3) Leaching  that leads to loss of soil nutrients
(i) This is the removal of nutrients from the topsoil to the inner parts of the soil beyond the reach of the roots of the plant.

It results in the loss of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium from the topsoil in solution.
(iii) It also results in the accumulation of aluminium and hydrogen ions which become acidic and toxic to plants

(4) pH: The degree of acidity or alkalinity of the soil affects the availability of nutrients both in the soil and also to plants

(i) A low pH (high acidity) will encourage the disintegration of clay minerals 111cc calcium, iron and aluminium ions which are leached away from the soil

(ii) At high pH (high alkalinity) calcium and magnesium ions accumulate in the soll which affects the growth of plants
(iii) A low pH also reduces the activity of soil-living organism which aid the decomposition of organic matter.
(5) Excess of Other Nutrients
(i) The presence of certain element(s) in high concentration may prevent the absorption or utilization of other elements. read about macro and micro-trace elements here

(ii) The concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus in the soil results in the non-availability of potassium.
(iii) This condition results in retarded growth, low yield or even death of the plant.
(6) Oxidation and Reduction of Organic Materials

(i) Some compounds such as ammonium radicals are oxidised to gaseous ammonia.
(ii) Nitrates are also reduced to molecular nitrogen or oxides of nitrogen by denitrifying bacteria.

(iii) These products i.e., ammonium radicals and nitrates which escape into the atmosphere in the form of gases make the soil become poorer in nutrients.

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loss of soil nutrients


Urbanization can contribute to the loss of soil nutrients

although the extent of this impact can vary depending on various factors. Here are some ways in which urbanization can lead to the loss of soil nutrients:

Soil sealing: Urban development often involves the construction of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure, which results in the sealing of soil surfaces.

When soil is covered with impervious materials like concrete or asphalt, it reduces the infiltration of water and limits nutrient cycling processes.

This can lead to the loss of nutrients through runoff, preventing their replenishment in the soil.

Soil compaction: The heavy machinery, construction activities, and increased foot traffic associated with urbanization can lead to soil compaction.

Compacted soils have reduced pore space, limiting the movement of air, water, and nutrients within the soil. This can affect root penetration and microbial activity, ultimately leading to decreased nutrient availability.

Loss of organic matter: Urbanization often involves clearing vegetation and removing topsoil, which can result in the loss of organic matter.

Organic matter plays a crucial role in soil fertility as it provides a source of nutrients and helps improve soil structure.

Without adequate organic matter inputs, the soil\’s nutrient-holding capacity can decline, affecting plant growth.

Pollution: Urban areas can be sources of various pollutants, including heavy metals, chemicals, and atmospheric nitrogen deposition.

These pollutants can contaminate soils, rendering them unsuitable for plant growth or altering nutrient availability. Additionally, certain pollutants can disrupt soil microbial communities, affecting nutrient cycling processes.

Altered nutrient inputs: Urban areas often experience changes in nutrient inputs. For example, the use of fertilizers in urban landscaping practices can result in nutrient imbalances if not managed properly.

Improper fertilizer application or excessive use can lead to nutrient runoff, which can pollute water bodies and deplete soil nutrients.

It is worth noting that urbanization\’s impact on soil nutrient loss can be mitigated through various strategies such as implementing sustainable urban planning, adopting green infrastructure practices, promoting urban agriculture, and implementing soil conservation measures

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